The question stems from this video. Additionally, I would like to know any books, articles and other credible sources that deals with this question for further reading*. Thank you for your time.

* History is not my field. I am not experienced in discerning whether a source is credible or not.

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  • John Dominic Crossan contends not that there is no Nazerth, but rather that Nazareth was simply a minor village on the outskirts of Sepphoris. Then again, JDC also contends the resurrection is just a happy thought, and not a real thing :) May 16, 2013 at 19:15
  • @AffableGeek I also heard him say once that the story of Judas is "a very mean fiction." He took exception to the fact that Judas can mean Jew and accused the story to be antisemitic, therefore, obviously false and "mean" too.
    – user3961
    May 16, 2013 at 19:28
  • It would probably be best if this was migrated to History or Skeptics.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 31, 2014 at 0:14
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    @curiousdannii You might have been right a year and a half ago. The system doesn't let us migrate anything older than 60 days, so these need to be caught and decided on early rather than late. At this point either it stands as on-topic or it doesn't, but the alternative is outright closure.
    – Caleb
    Oct 31, 2014 at 6:30

3 Answers 3


It's very easy to look back thousands of years, once time has had plenty of time to change things, and say that there's no evidence for something and so it must be false. But it's a very different matter when there aren't thousands of years in the way.

The Gospels were written in the first century AD, by people who experienced it personally, to their contemporaries, and they were believed. Now, miracles are one thing--believing in them takes faith, of course. But miracles aren't the only things in the Gospels.

If I wrote a supposedly non-fiction account about my own experiences living in the city of Blargsenberg, New Jersey, it wouldn't take long before someone looked at it and said "hey, there's no such city! This is a made-up story!" But the interesting thing is, there's no evidence of contemporaries rejecting the Gospels on the basis of them contradicting easily verifiable facts on non-miraculous claims.

In the video, the speaker suggests that if there was no such city as Nazareth, the entire Gospel narrative falls apart. But he does not seem to understand that if there was no such city as Nazareth, it would not have taken people 2000 years to realize that!

Occam's Razor cuts his argument to ribbons. Now, if no evidence for an ancient town matching the Biblical narrative exists on the present-day site known as Nazareth, a much more plausible explanation is that the present-day site is located in the wrong place.

  • Thank you for your answer. It makes sense that people would have objections to the narrative in the Gospels that has to do with the city of Nazareth, if it did not exist at that time. However, I'm not familiar with Occam's Razor. I know the general idea after looking it up on Wikipedia. I would appreciate if you could elaborate further on what assumptions must one take to claim that Nazareth did not exist at the time of Jesus, as opposed to the opposite claim. It would help me understand the two opposite claims when dealt with Occam's Razor. Thank you for your time.
    – user4167
    May 17, 2013 at 12:09
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    @user4167: Occam's Razor is the concept that when faced with two explanations for something, the simpler explanation is the more probable one. We have two explanations here: either the Gospel writers invented a town that did not exist, and people who lived in the area believed the story and no one noticed that there was no such place as Nazareth until thousands of years later... or the town existed and we just haven't found the evidence of it in modern days.
    – Mason Wheeler
    May 17, 2013 at 17:15

The most credible arguments against the existence of Nazareth at the beginning of the first century are that the earliest pottery remains found at the site date to the Roman period, possibly no earlier than the first century, and that Josephus never mentioned the town, although he listed almost every town and village in first-century Galilee. However, this is only circumstantial evidence and is at least consistent with Nazareth being a small hamlet until the middle of the century, when events elsewhere meant that Nazareth became an important Jewish centre in Galilee.

The most credible arguments for the existence of Nazareth at the beginning of the first century are the many gospel references of Nazareth as the home town of Jesus. It used to be believed that at least two of the gospels were written by disciples who had actually lived and preached in the vicinity of Nazareth and would therefore have known that there was such a town. It used to be believed the gospels were written so soon after the time of the crucifixion that some would have realised that Nazareth did not really exist, if that were the case. Recent research means that we now know that the first gospel, Mark's Gospel, was not written until approximately 70 CE, by which time the town certainly existed. None of the Gospel's audience would have known whether Nazareth had already existed almost a century earlier. Even the author of Mark might not have known how long Nazareth had been in existence, although he certainly knew of the town at the time of writing. Once again, this is circumstantial.

Luke chapter 4 mentions a synagogue in Nazareth by the 30s of the first century, which means that Nazareth was by now a substantial town, but there are grounds for believing that the author of Luke did not really know whether there was a synagogue that Mark and Matthew had not mentioned when written decades earlier. In any case, this tells us nothing about Nazareth at the beginning of the century, or earlier.

There are those who, for ideological reasons would insist that Nazareth did not exist at the time of Jesus and there are those who would insist that it must have existed, if only because of faith in the gospels. John Dominic Crossan contends that Nazareth was probably a minor village in the early years of the first century, which is probably as close to the truth as we can come. We know there was a town there later in the first century, and towns require a reliable source of water; if a reliable water supply existed then a village would probably have grown up there long before the town was established. While we might prefer to think of Jesus growing up in a town of some significance, at least a minor village (with no synagogue) is more acceptable to the Christian story than no village at all.


An archaeological dig found evidence of a house from the first century in the heart of Nazareth. See here:-


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